Dubai: Stepped-up government initiatives to bolster the pursuit of happiness may seem like a fairly new modern-day concept sweeping the country, says Uhoud Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State of Happiness and Quality of Life.
The UAE, after all, is working hard across all fronts to be among the top five happiest countries in the world by 2021 since adopting a new national happiness charter early last year.
In a wide-ranging address at Dubai Forum for Government Best Practices 2017 on Wednesday, Al Roumi told more than 2,000 delegates that happiness has been a central building block since the UAE’s formative years after a new federation took its first steps on December 2, 1971.
How inspiring governments help shape the future and achieve happiness was this year’s theme of the 10th Dubai Forum hosted by the Dubai Government Excellence Programme and the Dubai Executive Council.
During her presentation, Al Roumi displayed a large on-screen copy of an old Arabic newspaper’s front page report on the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s strong personal conviction that happiness in a new UAE was critical for the future hopes of the people.
Shaikh Zayed was quoted at the time as saying, “My wealth is the happiness of the people,” a mantra that has eventually led to a full revival by today’s UAE leaders to inspire happiness through better customer services, meaningful employment and long-term projects such as Dubai Expo 2020.
“This is a natural evolution of the happiness concept,” said Al Roumi, who was named the inaugural happiness minister in February 2016 to harmonise government plans, programmes and policies to achieve a happier society.
“Now, in any policy we ask: ‘How can we include happiness in that?’” Al Roumi said. “There is an aim to do good for the community and make the people happy.”
Managers from several federal and emirates’ government departments joined Al Roumi on stage to share a number of new initiatives directed specifically at happier workers and constituents — ranging from better customer services to in-office daily surveys to monitor workers’ happiness.
At Dubai Service Centre One, for example, customers are being treated the way they would like to be treated, delegates heard, through innovative programmes that provide quicker, quality government services that make life more streamlined.
Delegates were encouraged to seek happiness by giving more of themselves to work, family and community in a motivating speech by Dr Ahmad Al Nusairat, coordinator-general, Dubai Government Excellence Programme.
“Inspirational leadership touches the people and takes them to the future, love and success and that is good for humanity,” Al Nusairat said.
He suggested that those who are committed and devoted to public service by working harder and longer hours reap greater rewards when they see their communities excel around them, thanks to sound government leadership.
“Some times we are tired but we are happy,” Nusairat told delegates. “True happiness is when you give, when you achieve, when you see the results of your achievements.”
National Charter for Happiness
In March 2016, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, approved the National Programme for Happiness and Positivity to serve as the National Charter of Happiness. He also gave the nod to new initiatives to foster a happy and productive work environment at federal government offices.
The initiatives include:
Appointing CEOs for happiness and positivity at all government bodies;
Establishing councils for happiness and positivity at federal entities;
Allocating time for happiness-related programmes and activities at the federal government;
Establishing offices for happiness and positivity;
Transforming customer service centres into customer happiness centres;
Including annual indexes, surveys and reports to measure happiness in all community segments;
Adoption of a standard form for corporate happiness and positivity at all government bodies.